Chances are you’ll spend more waking hours in your first work cubicle than your first post-university apartment.

But as any nine-to-fiver knows, the last thing you’ll want to come home to is another cookie-cutter space.

“No matter how small your budget or transient your living situation, take the time to make a place you love,” recommends Elaine Griffin, designer and author of Design Rules.

Her tips for feeling that “aaah” every time you open the door?

1. Educate your eye and think about what kind of styles, colours and shapes resonate with you. 

2. Streamline the space by choosing multi-tasking pieces that incorporate plenty of storage.

A classic couch in a dark neutral colour is a good start and a rug will help to ground the room. Picture: Supplied

3. No matter your floor plan, your living room will probably need to be versatile enough to transform into an impromptu dining room/guest room/home office.

4. Splurge on portable things that really speak to your soul and make you smile when you look at them, like art and accessories.

5. The rest of your budget should focus on impactful comforts that will last for years.

Tips for making your first home worthy of your time. Here is some advice and suggestions…

Folding dining table

Usually in your first space a true dining room is a luxury. A foldaway table looks high-end, but can be tucked behind a sofa when not in use. Flip up one side to use as a desk, or both sides if you’re serving your first Friendsgiving.

Classic couch

It is time to graduate from that hand-me-down sofa you’ve been using for years. Opt for simple and classic. A simple mid-century option and a dark neutral colour means you can bring in pops of colour in textiles and accessories.

Throw pillows

A room isn’t finished until it’s accessorised. Our personal style is influenced by where we’re from, where we’ve been, where we’re at and where we’re going. This is your first stab at capturing all four.

Throw pillows are a good way to accessorise a room. Picture: World Market


A rug helps ground a room. If you are on a budget, go with a natural material like jute, leather or wool. Also look for woven instead of knotted rugs. These will get you bigger bang for your buck.

Nesting tables

These are essential because they take up the same floor space as one side table, but you get three when people pop over or you need more surface space.

Wall art

It is time to invest in a few pieces of art to help fill your walls and bring style into your new place. I love oversized tribal-inspired prints that come framed and ready to hang on the wall. Put them side by side above your sofa, one above each night stand, or arrange them in a gallery wall if you have a big space to fill.

Multifunctional coffee table

Get a big coffee table – the largest your living room can realistically fit – because it will become a dining table. Try a long, but narrow one, with seating for six.

Storage bed

Often you don’t have room for a dresser in your first bedroom so a storage bed is ideal because it turns wasted space under your bed into drawer space.


If you can’t remember when you bought your last sheet set, it is time to get a new one. Linen is not only extremely soft, but also makes early morning bed-making a snap when you are on the go.

Don’t forget about the importance of good lighting in your apartment. Supplied

Floor lamp

Lighting makes or breaks a space. I recommend layering your lighting, so if you have an apartment that has overhead lights, think of more directional task lamps.

If you have no overhead lighting, you will want to go with a more omnidirectional floor lamp and directional task lamps.

Use lamps to light your apartment.

Property Guide

– The Washington Post

Categories: Money